SOUND MIND, SOUND BODY: Give yourself boost with a few steps

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It is that time of year again when we all make our New Year's resolutions.

This is a particularly busy time of year for the local gyms where people make promises to themselves that this year they are going to get fit or perhaps lose those extra pounds they put on over the holidays.

Each year 40-45 percent of adults make one or more resolutions or goals for themselves. Research shows 75 percent make it past the first week and 46 percent make it past six months.

With those numbers, it seems that a lot of us are breaking our resolutions, but statistics on New Year's resolutions show that setting goals for yourself is still good because you are 10 times more likely to attain your goal than people who do not explicitly make goals.

First, the bad news: In a study conducted by Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire, after interviewing nearly 700 people about their strategies for achieving New Year's resolutions found that 78 percent failed their resolution.

This high percentage of people failed because, among other reasons, they tried to suppress their cravings, imagined or fantasized about being successful, adopted a role model or relied on willpower alone. But as suggested by Wiseman's results these methods simply did not work for most people.

"If you are trying to lose weight. It's not enough to stick a picture of a model on your fridge or fantasize about being slimmer," Wiseman said.

I know that sounds discouraging but maybe instead of making token New Year's resolutions, we should make a continued commitment to ourselves to have a lifestyle that is healthier. For a happier and healthier you, perhaps making a series of goals that will ultimately help us to be healthier is the best and last resolution we will ever have to make.

Here are several suggestions that I have for making a New Year's habit for wellness and a healthier you. Remember to tackle these things one at a time and spread them out over the course of the year or several years. The important thing is to be happy and healthy.

One thing you can do is control your portions. Studies show using smaller plates and bowls promotes weight loss because these help curb overeating.

Number two is to just be active. Try to aim for 30 minutes daily, which will help reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease as well as certain type II diabetes cases.

Three, slash sodium consumption. Studies show that Americans consume close to twice the recommended daily limit, so lowering sodium consumption can help reduce our risk of hypertension.

The fourth, and maybe the hardest, is to quit smoking. You'll get immediate benefits that start 20 minutes after you smoke your last cigarette.

Five, remember to floss your teeth. Many people do not know that bacteria in your mouth can lead to serious health problems.

Finally, strength training can provide significant functional benefits and improvement in overall health and well-being, including increased bone, muscle, tendon and ligament strength, improved joint function, a reduced potential for injury, increased bone density, a temporary increase in metabolism, improved cardiac function and elevated HDL (good) cholesterol.

With these recommendations you now have some tools you can use to begin working on a happier and healthier you.

Sound Mind, Soundy Body is a weekly column written by staff at the Walla Walla YMCA. Juan Sanchez has worked as a program director at the YMCA for 10 years and personal trainer for 16 years.

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